Free Speech has its limits, writes Michael Ingham

The Rt. Rev. Michael Ingham argued that he supported in principle the right of free expression and satire, but said these rights must be expressed in inoffensive ways

The former Bishop of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada, the Rt. Rev. Michael Ingham, has responded to the Charlie Hebdo shooting by calling for limitations in free speech. Bishop Ingham, who gained notoriety for having introduced same-sex blessings to the Anglican Communion and for his legal campaign against conservative evangelicals, argued that he supported in principle the right of free expression and satire, but said these rights must be expressed in inoffensive ways. Writing in the Anglican Journal Bishop Ingham argued: “If religious criticism is intended deliberately to offend, to vilify or to slander, it is not acceptable and I would be outraged. …. I am not against satire. I am against hatred. If satire is intended respectfully to challenge or question a fundamental belief, or to expose the hypocrisy of the institution or its leaders, it is perfectly okay.” He stated that Charlie Hebdo abused free speech. “What we have in the Paris cartoons is a misuse of freedom,” Bishop Ingham claimed, adding it was “secular fundamentalism that insists on the right to cause offence in the name of freedom.” The Canadian blog Anglican Samizdat was unconvinced, noting respectful and inoffensive satire was neither free nor satirical. If the bishop believed “satire has to serve the public good. Who decides this in the absence of an ecclesiarchy, the state? Welcome back to the Soviet Union.”

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